Union leaders have called for urgent action on air pollution after publishing a list of 18 areas across the UK where levels exceed safe limits.
They include parts of London, Glasgow, Birmingham, Belfast and Caerphilly.
The GMB said the health of its members – from street cleaners to police community support workers – is being put at risk and has called for more local monitoring and action to tackle the problem.
John McClean, GMB national health, safety and environment officer, said: ‘These figures on nitrogen dioxide confirm the urgent need for better air quality monitoring in urban and built up areas. Clean air should be a right, not a privilege.
‘Road transport is a major cause of air pollution. Even though engine technology is improving, these exposure levels are still dangerously high, and place workers and the public at increased risk of respiratory diseases.’
He called on VW to be ‘severely punished’ in the aftermath of accusations that it falsified emissions results for its vehicles.
‘GMB has already had enquiries for company car drivers worried that emissions scales on which their VW cars are taxed could be reviewed by HMRC landing them with additional taxes,’ he said.
Other areas with nitrogen dioxide levels above the EU safety limit include Stoke-on-Trent, Oxford and Aberdeen.
Mr McClean added: ‘We reiterate our call for high polluting vehicles to be banned from city centres, and for local authorities to take immediate action in priority areas such as near schools, hospitals and GP surgeries. Waiting for technology to reduce emissions is not an acceptable response. GMB calls for action now.'